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Photographing Fireworks?


Obviously A slow shutter speed like 5 seconds is necessary for capturing fireworks as well as a tripod, that part I understand but how exactly do i time it right to actually capture the fireworks exploding? Do i shoot when as soon as the person shoots the rocket into the sky? 



Hi Nate:
Photographing fireworks is certainly an art form.  The variables are immense: at one moment the sky can be very dark, then suddenly ablaze with the light of a bunch of bursting fireworks.  That means that there is no perfect exposure time.  Yes, a reasonably sturdy tripod, shutter release and wide angle lens are de rigeur for the activity.

As far as timing goes... much depends on the characteristics of the show.  For smaller events one may see a person or group actually initiating the fireworks, but on bigger events they are often done remotely and you are much further away.  Then, some displays are relatively static - with fireworks configured to deliver shapes or messages, and they are pretty easy as one just has to frame and shoot for the right period.  On the other end of the scale are those fireworks that gain altitude super fast and explode very quickly.  I'm not sure there is a predictable way of getting those!

Generally, FWIW, I have the camera set to a wide enough focal range so that I don't have to do a lot to get the whole show in frame.  Then I go for the slower pyrotechnics, given firing for a fast explosion is going to result in a shutter speed that is fairly lengthy and may cost me a much more photographable burst.

In the end, I suspect there is no scientific way of predicting how precisely to get the perfect shots.  Certainly, for me, it's a case of set up to get the FoV, set the ISO low, the shutter speed slow, and hope to get a few good ones.

Butchart Gardens, Victoria BC, CanadaCanon EOS 5DMkIII. EF 24-105@27mm, f/11, 6sec, ISO-100Canon EOS 5DMkIII. EF 24-105@27mm, f/11, 6sec, ISO-100

cheers, TREVOR

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris